Just a couple of weeks ago, an Open Line caller asked if Jewish people worship the same God as Christians do? He was concerned because Jewish people did not believe in the Triune God and he wondered how anyone could think that Jewish people were worshiping the same God as he worships. That’s an important question, important enough that I wanted to take a longer look at what the Scriptures say about this.
When looking at the New Testament, it does appear that Jewish people and Christians worship the same God. Four passages support this idea. First, in the context of Acts 22:3, Paul has been falsely accused of bringing a Gentile beyond the court of the Gentiles in the Jerusalem temple into an area where it would be forbidden for non-Jews to worship. Rather than go quietly, Paul asks and receives permission to address the crowd. At the outset he begins to tell his faith story and says in v. 3, “I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today.” Speaking to this Jewish crowd, Paul can’t be saying that he is zealous for God (with a capital G) but they are zealous for a different god (with a small g). By saying that he was zealous for God just as they were, Paul is indicating that both he and the Jewish people worship the same God.
Second, in Acts 24:15 where Paul is on trial for the same alleged offense but this time he is before the Roman governor Felix. To Felix he says of those Jewish people who accused him of wrongdoing: “And I have a hope in God, which these men themselves also accept, that there is going to be a resurrection.” Paul is saying that his faith and expectation is that God will raise the dead and that his Jewish accusers share that same faith and expectation in God. Since they share the same hope, it would lead to the conclusion that their hope is in the same God as Paul’s.
Third, in Acts 26:6-7, Paul is still on trial for the same alleged offense but this time he says to the Jewish King Agrippa, “And now I stand on trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, the promise our 12 tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve Him night and day.” When saying that Jewish people earnestly serve God, the word Paul uses, “serve,” actually is a Greek word, used in Scripture, to mean “worship.” The verse is speaking of the God who made a covenant with Abraham and it clearly states Jewish people worship Him.
Finally, in Romans 10:2, after expressing a heart of compassion for his Jewish brothers who don’t yet believe Jesus is the Messiah, Paul says “they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge.” The word “zeal” means “passionate activism.” Paul identifies his Jewish brothers as passionate activists, not for being Jewish but for the God of Israel, the same God for whom Paul was zealous. This verse is helpful because it reveals that Jewish people worship the same God but nevertheless, have an incomplete view of Him; it is “not according to knowledge.” Although there are some Jewish believers in Jesus (see Romans 11:1-5), most Jewish people who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob don’t realize that He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus; they do not acknowledge that He is triune, nor do they recognize that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
The Bible makes it clear that this incomplete knowledge leads to incomplete worship. Therefore, in Romans 10:1, Paul says his heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Jewish people is that they might be saved. Jewish people worship the same God but they still need to know Jesus, and experience forgiveness by believing in Him. So we must pray for them and tell them lovingly of the good news that the Messiah of Israel has come, and that He is Jesus of Nazareth.
One last thought: We may very well be thinking about this question incorrectly. Instead of asking, do Jewish people worship the same God as Christians?, we might want to acknowledge that Christians worship the God of Israel. When Christians worship God of the Bible, they are worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Christians worship the Holy One of Israel, as Isaiah called Him. Instead of portraying Jewish people as worshiping a different false god, Christians should acknowledge that their faith is in the God revealed in the Hebrew Bible, the God of Israel. And if Christians truly appreciated that, it might lead to greater respect for their Jewish friends and also a deeper determination share the Good News with their Jewish friends, that the Messiah of Israel has come and His name is Yeshua, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt 1:1).